Soldiers not to evict, assault or harass Happiness Village residents


Parliament has been assured soldiers and other national defence force personnel stationed at Marievale will not interfere in any way with people in the Happiness Village informal settlement adjacent to the Gauteng military base.

The next chapter in the apparent ongoing saga around illegal occupation of at least some houses on the base first became public four years ago and saw Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) take up legal cudgels on behalf of those apparently illicitly living in military accommodation on State land. Hearings in the North Gauteng High Court saw them supposedly provided with alternate accommodation, provided jointly by Ekurhuleni Metro and the SA National Defence Force (SANDF). It later transpired the community, as they started calling themselves, had voluntarily relocated and were living adjacent to the base in a settlement they named Happiness Village.

EFF (Economic Freedom Fighters) parliamentarian Rosina Komane was this month (July) told by Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula the national defence force, in the form of Marievale base management, is “fully adhering” to a High Court order issued by Judge Dennis Davis.

“The SANDF does not have any plan to evict anyone without any court order and its court application process for eviction(s) is underway. The members of Happiness Village will stay there until the eviction application by the SANDF has been adjudicated and legally authorised.

“None of the remaining housing structures in Happiness Village will be demolished by the SANDF. In ensuring this is implemented a briefing was given to all uniformed members in Marievale Military Base to the effect that no member of the SANDF was allowed and will never be allowed to assault, harass or threaten any member or occupant of Happiness Village and/or demolish their houses. Furthermore, a copy of the court order was distributed to all members in Marievale Military Base,” the Ministerial reply to the EFF Northern Cape public representative read.

Marievale is a SA Army Infantry Formation base housing elements of the Bambatha Rifles and guards from 21 SA Infantry Battalion. The base will, at a future stage, provide stabling for at least some equine assets of Potchefstroom–based SAASIC (SA Army Specialist Infantry Capability). This was made public in a SANDF LinkedIn post following a visit to the base by Major General Patrick Dube, GOC (General Officer Commanding) the Infantry Formation. While Marievale will provide stabling as part of SAASIC’s equestrian wing training facility the base housing its headquarters, kennels, stables and training facilities will remain in North West.